Chapter 1 Summary
Toni Morrison's Home begins with a short chapter in the first person, narrated by a man named Frank Money. (Note that Frank's name is not mentioned until Chapter 2.) In vivid, poetic language, he reminisces about a day in his childhood when he and his little sister saw two stallions fight in a field. “They rose up like men,” he says, describing how the horses stood on their hind legs to fight each other.
As Frank retells this story, he explains that he and his sister were not supposed to be in that field. The area was fenced in, and there were signs telling them to keep out. However, they were little, and they were tempted by a hole they found under the fence. When they crawled through, they were amazed to see horses standing up, full of dignity and violence:
Their raised hooves crashing and striking, their manes tossing back from wild white eyes.
As the children watched, one of the stallions won the fight and rounded up the mares and colts for himself. The other stallion ran away.
Frank seems to enjoy remembering the horses, but his story soon takes a dark turn. On their way home, he and his sister saw a group of men pushing a dead body in a wheelbarrow. The children froze, hiding themselves in the tall grass. As they watched, the men dumped the body into a hole. They didn’t get a good look at the dead man, except for one “black foot with its creamy pink and mud-streaked sole.” Frank, who is African American, does not explicitly describe the men who were doing the burying, but he implies that they were white. They knocked the black foot into the hole, filled in the grave, and left.
For hours, Frank and his sister remained in their hiding place. She shook with fear and hid her face while he, who was four years older, tried to remain stoic. Not until darkness did he judge it safe for them to make their way back home. When they arrived, they thought they might be whipped for staying out so late, but the adults were too busy to take any notice of them. “Some disturbance had their attention,” Frank says. The reader is left to guess whether or not this “disturbance” has anything to do with the dead body the children saw in the field.
As the chapter ends, Frank addresses a writer, presumably Toni Morrison. He says that she cannot understand his story, and she is sure to get it wrong. He claims that he forgot about the...
(The entire section is 454 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
In Chapter 2, Frank Money’s story resumes in the third person. Now he is an adult, tied to a bed in a mental hospital. It is late at night, and he is pretending to be asleep, hoping to trick the doctors into skipping his medication and loosening his restraints so that he can escape.
Frank is determined to get out of the hospital, even if he has to use violence to do so. He needs to travel to Georgia and find his little sister. According to a note he received a few days ago, she is in some kind of trouble, and she will die if he does not rescue her.
As he waits for his chance to run, Frank ponders the problem of clothes. He has a pair of pants and an army jacket, but no shoes. Walking in the snow with no shoes could be a problem; police may suspect him of vagrancy and haul him back to the hospital or to jail.
A couple of hours before sunrise, Frank manages to get out of the hospital. He runs, barefoot and freezing, to the AME Zion Church, where a poor black reverend helps him. Frank cannot remember why he got tossed in a mental hospital, but he says that he probably did something violent. The reverend gives Frank food and a pair of galoshes, the only shoes in the house that will fit him, so he can travel on. The reverend’s family also provides seventeen dollars, all the money they have, to pay for a part of Frank’s journey.
On the bus and train trips that follow, Frank spends most of his time thinking about the panicky and sometimes violent episodes he has occasionally experienced since serving in the Korean War. Around his girlfriend, Lily, he does not struggle with them so much. Now that he has left Lily to go find his sister, he is not sure he can keep himself sane. He resolves to drink very little and to try to control himself. As he thinks all this, he repeatedly catches glimpses of a small man wearing a zoot suit who does not seem to be real.
Frank’s journey is difficult. He is treated with contempt by the next minister he asks for help. He has trouble with bathrooms, because many stops only have bathrooms available for whites. On a train to Chicago, he sees an African American man bleeding and asks what happened. A waiter tells Frank that the man tried to buy coffee at a whites-only shop. The customers attacked him for it, and the victim’s wife tried to help. Frank reflects that the man will probably beat his wife when they get home. This, Frank thinks, is only natural....
(The entire section is 628 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
Chapter 3 is another first-person scene from Frank’s childhood. Back when Frank was four years old, he, his family, and his neighbors were kicked out of their homes in Bandera County, Texas. They were made to leave purely because of their black skin. Some of the neighbors had trucks, and they were able to take a great deal of what they owned—but they still lost the crops and animals that had made up their livelihoods.
Frank’s family had no truck, so they took only what they could fit into a wheelbarrow. They set out walking toward Georgia, where they had family. When a neighbor offered them seats in his car, they had to leave even the wheelbarrow behind. Frank’s mother cried about losing so many possessions, but she was pregnant and knew she had to get off her feet in order to save the baby. They lost everything but what they could hold on their laps: a small basket of clothes, the reins of a horse, and a few tools.
Frank remembers that the bottom sole of one of his shoes was falling off during their migration. It flapped constantly as he walked until his father took off one of his own shoelaces and tied it down. Frank remembers the time as one of the most difficult of his life: “Talk about tired. Talk about hungry.” He struggles to describe the paltry meals he ate at food pantries during the period. Addressing the writer of his story, he says, “Write about that, why don’t you?” His tone suggests frustration, as if he thinks the writer is missing the details that matter most.
Continuing with his memories, Frank explains that his mother heard an unusual name in a food pantry on the journey. This name, Ycidra, was given to Frank’s little sister a few weeks later. Ycidra, called Cee for short, was born in a church basement. By tradition, her parents waited nine days before officially naming her.
The thought of names makes Frank remember that he was named for his uncle. His father was named Luther, his mother Ida. Their surname, Money, has always been ridiculous because they never had any.
At the end of the chapter, Frank suggests that the writer of his story does not know what it means to feel too hot. That summer during his family’s forced migration, he felt heat too strong and deep for words. “Trees give up. Turtles cook in their shells. Describe that if you know how,” he says—and he seems to doubt that she can.
(The entire section is 431 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
Chapter 4 returns to the third person, but it tells Cee’s story instead of Frank’s. As the chapter begins, Cee is sitting in a cold bath in a small apartment in Atlanta, thinking back on her life. It has not been very good.
After Cee's family got kicked out of their home in Texas, they moved to Lotus, Georgia. For the years that followed, they lived in the home of Cee's step-grandmother, Lenore Money. During that period, Frank and Cee spent their days in the care of Lenore, who hated them—especially Cee. According to Lenore, a person born on the road during a time of strife was destined to grow up worthless.
Frank was the saving grace in Cee’s childhood. He loved and protected her when all the adults were either too busy or too bitter to care. But he protected her so well that she never leaned to take care of herself.
After three years with Lenore, Cee's parents and uncle were able to rent a place of their own. They were still poor, but they now had a garden and chickens, which gave them something to share with the neighbors. All of the neighbors shared with each other except Lenore, who preferred to hoard what was hers.
Now, as Cee splashes in the bath and reflects on her life, she wishes she had had more childhood experiences with people outside of her family and neighbors. If she had been allowed to meet more people or to go to school in the next town, she might have known enough not to fall for the first unfamiliar boy she met. But she knew nothing, and shortly after Frank went off to serve in the Korean War, she ran away with a boy named Prince.
Prince and Cee borrowed Lenore's car and left Lotus. As it turned out, this car was the whole reason Prince was interested in Cee. Eventually he stole it and abandoned her. Now Cee is alone in Atlanta, Georgia, and she is too scared to go back to Lotus and face Lenore’s wrath. Cee has a dishwashing job, but it will not cover her expenses, and her brother is not around to give her advice. What she needs is a second job, or a better job. Otherwise she cannot make it on her own.
When Cee hears about a job opening for an assistant to a doctor, she immediately decides to apply. She gets the job and thinks it is wonderful. She gets to spend her days writing notes about patients and admiring the way Dr. Scott treats the sick even if they are black and poor.
Cee thinks her new employer is a hero. She sees that...
(The entire section is 497 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
In Chapter 5, Frank describes his feelings about women. He has always found it relatively easy to get women’s attention because they enjoy teasing him about his name. In childhood, his cleverness earned him the nickname Smart. He has learned that women enjoy making jokes about a poor man named Smart Money.
Frank has always loved the fragility he senses inside women. To him, a woman’s vulnerability is like “a bird’s breastbone.” He knows he could break most women “with a forefinger,” but he would never want to. When he was with Lily, he felt that her fragility climbed inside his chest and became part of him, too.
Next, Frank describes how he and Lily met. It was a few months after he returned from the Korean War. He had been drinking and gambling most of the time. He had no fixed home and no direction in his life. He was dirty and lost. One day, while walking through the city, he saw a little girl bleeding and vomiting. This made him sad, and he spent days feeling out of sorts. Then he saw his reflection and found himself so “pitiful-looking” that he was ashamed. He decided to clean himself up and change his life so that he could make himself and his fellow veterans proud. Frank took his clothes to a dry cleaner’s, and that was where he met Lily.
Lily and Frank started a relationship very quickly, and she helped him regain a measure of control over his life. Around her, his war flashbacks did not haunt him so badly. She was the most important thing in his life, aside from his sister and his memories. He thinks he would still be with Lily if he had not received the letter saying Cee needed help.
Frank says that the author of his story is “dead wrong” if she thinks all he wanted from Lily was sex and a place to live. He says:
Something about her floored me, made me want to be good enough for her. Is that too hard for you to understand?
Frank’s tone in this passage suggests that he does not expect the author of his story to believe him.
Continuing in this vein, Frank complains that the author is messing up his story. According to him, she was incorrect back in Chapter 2 when she said he thought a man would be justified in beating his wife. “I think you don’t know much about love,” he says, “Or me.”
(The entire section is 420 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
Chapter 6, another third-person chapter, tells the story of Frank’s girlfriend, Lily. She used to be a seamstress at a theater, and she reflects that the actresses there were rude, always ordering her around and referring to her as “the girl.” She did not mind this because it was a good job. She often overheard arguments between the actors and director, but she never paid much attention until her boss got arrested and the theater closed.
After losing her job, Lily began work at a dry cleaner’s. It did not pay so well, but she nevertheless managed to save enough money for a down payment on a house. She consulted a real estate agent about a house advertisement, and she was told that she could not buy the home. When she demanded to know why, the agent showed Lily the following passage from the house contract:
No part of said property hereby conveyed shall ever be used or occupied by any Hebrew or by any person of the Ethiopian, Malay, or Asiatic race excepting only employees in domestic service.
In other words, Lily was not allowed to buy the house because she was black. This infuriated her, and she initially refused the agent’s offer of “rentals and apartments” in neighborhoods where she was allowed to live. However, she later conceded defeat and rented a new apartment.
Unable to pursue her goal of owning a home, Lily felt “stifled.” At this stage in her life, she met Frank Money. Her relationship with him was “glorious at first,” but it soon fell apart. Its failure was “more of a stutter than a single eruption.” She often arrived home from work to find him silent, half-dressed, and staring off at nothing. He showed no interest when she complained about problems in their apartment building, and he obviously had no interest in owning a home. According to Lily, “he seemed to have no goals at all.”
Lily realized only slowly that Frank was still traumatized by his experiences in the Korean War. She recalls that he once grew terrified at the sight of a little Asian girl at a church picnic. He fled, embarrassing Lily greatly. Afterward, he refused to explain himself. He only said that he would never embarrass her that way again.
During this period, Lily, an excellent seamstress, was developing a decent business sewing lace and embroidering cloths. She set her sights on a full-time career as a business owner. Her progress...
(The entire section is 550 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
In chapter 7, another first-person chapter, Frank describes the town where he and Cee grew up. According to him, Lotus, Georgia “is the worst place in the world, worse than any battlefield.” In battle, he explains, there is something to strive for. Battle demands courage. Battle offers a chance of success.
In contrast, Lotus has never held any such opportunities. It is a place where nobody has a future. In Lotus,
there [is] no goal other than breathing, nothing to win and, save for somebody else’s quiet death, nothing to survive or worth surviving for.
During Frank’s childhood in Loutus, only his friends and his sister kept him sane. His parents were too downtrodden to care about anything or anyone, and his grandparents were too full of hatred.
When Frank was a child, none of his neighbors had any education or wanted any. They all lived in the same falling-down shacks, and they all worked boring manual jobs in the fields. Someone else owned all the land, and none of the African American residents of Lotus had any chance of buying it. It was such bad land anyway that nobody in their right mind would have wanted it in the first place.
Most of the people of Lotus never hoped for anything but a place where they could sleep safely, a place where they would not wake up to find guns pointed at them, forcing them to move on because of the color of their skin. The adults in Frank's life seemed to think this type of safety was enough, but it was not enough for Frank. He wanted a life that held hope and opportunity. In Lotus, the very best he could get was a little pale fun. He could chase girls and have sex. He could get himself in trouble. On occasion there was a ball game or a chance to go hunting or fishing with the boys. That was all, and Frank wanted more.
This was why Frank and his friends, Mike and Stuff, joined the army. “Thank the Lord for the army,” he says. As a soldier, he got to go out and see the world. He did not miss Lotus at all, and nothing could have forced him back except his sister’s need.
As the chapter ends, Frank warns the author not to think too much of him for going to save Cee: “Don’t paint me as some enthusiastic hero,” he says. “I had to go but I dreaded it.”
(The entire section is 418 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
Chapter 8, a third-person chapter, tells the story of Frank and Cee’s step-grandmother, Lenore Money. As the chapter begins, Lenore reflects on Jackie, the twelve-year-old girl she has hired to help clean her house. Jackie is a fascinating creature, half-child and half-adult. In her free time, she is always climbing trees or playing ball with the other children. In her work, she is as competent as an adult. The only thing she does poorly is mopping floors, but Lenore blames her poor-quality mop for that.
Lenore wants a new mop, but her husband, Salem, will not bother to go to town and get her one. Lenore’s first husband was a better man, willing to do as she asked and also capable of earning money. He owned his own gas station until someone shot him and left a note on his chest that said, “Get the hell out. Now.” The sheriff never bothered to investigate the murder, as far as Lenore knows. She was frightened enough to leave town, but she did at least retain a bit of money and property.
After her first husband’s murder, Lenore was scared to live alone. This was why she married Salem, who could protect her and also help her by repairing her house. The two of them could not get a marriage license because they had no birth certificates, but they did exchange vows at the local church.
Soon after Lenore married Salem, a group of his relatives showed up from Texas, desperate for help. After they moved in, Lenore no longer had any privacy or control over her household. The worst was the baby, Cee, who cried all the time and prevented Lenore from sleeping. As the child grew up, Lenore had to babysit her so the mother could get an extra job. Thankfully, the girl’s brother, Frank, did most of the childcare work himself.
Still, Cee was a trial for Lenore, a worthless child who was too awkward even to keep herself clean. Lenore whipped her a good deal, but nothing good came of her anyway. Cee ended up running off with that no-good boy who stole Lenore’s car.
Now Lenore is alone again, except for Salem. She is unhappy, and her only comforts are her money and property. She complains to Jackie all day while the girl works—at least until the day Lenore beats Jackie’s dog. The girl immediately quits and refuses to return to Lenore's house.
After that, Lenore grows worried and suffers a stroke. She is left disabled, and her speech is slurred. Salem claims he cannot understand...
(The entire section is 479 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
In Chapter 9, a first-person chapter, Frank reflects on his experiences in Korea. He says that nobody can imagine the place, or the war he fought there, without experiencing it firsthand. Above all, the worst hardship was the cold. “Korea cold hurts,” Frank says.
According to Frank, “Battle is scary, yeah, but it’s alive.” He felt alive when he was following orders, helping his friends, and even when he was killing the enemy. None of these things required deep thought, and there was a certain comfort in that. The only task he really hated was standing guard alone outside the base. It was hard to bear the combined boredom and anxiety of keeping watch for an enemy that might never come.
During Frank’s many mindless hours of guard duty, he stood staring at a view of a garbage dump that held refuse from the army base. One day, alert for any danger, he noticed a small movement in the bushes. He was not worried about the enemy, which moved in groups too large for such a small movement, but he did worry about tigers. He kept watching, and he soon realized that the movement was caused by a little girl who had come to steal food from the dump.
At first, the girl made Frank smile. She reminded him of Cee, so he did not try to get rid of her. After that she came every day, but he rarely glimpsed her face. All he ordinarily saw was her hand, reaching out into the pile of garbage and grabbing anything whatsoever that she could eat. He notes that she would eat virtually anything, rotten or not. “I’ve watched raccoons more choosy raiding garbage cans,” Frank says.
One day when the girl was there, another solider came to relieve Frank of his guard duty. This other man saw the girl and smiled, shaking his head. He stepped toward her, and she said something in Korean that sounded, to Frank, like “yum-yum.” At the same time, she reached up and patted the soldier's crotch. As Frank watched in shock, the other soldier shot the girl in the face.
It is clear that Frank is still horrified by this memory, and that he cannot quite get over it. He struggles to explain why a soldier might shoot an unarmed little girl:
Thinking back on it now, I think the guard felt more than disgust. I think he felt tempted and that is what he had to kill.
(The entire section is 416 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
In Chapter 10, a third-person chapter, Frank boards yet another train. As he sits looking out the window, he thinks about Mike, his boyhood friend from Lotus, who died in his arms in Korea. As Mike died, he said, “Don’t tell Mama.” Frank did not think that these dying words were very manly. When he talked about the death with their mutual friend, Stuff, Frank lied and claimed that Mike died saying, “Kill the fuckers.”
The death of Mike shook Frank badly. Previously, he had always followed orders on the battlefield, but he had never acted especially brave. Now he got reckless with his own life. But it was his other friend, Stuff, who died. Stuff's arm was blown off, and he bled to death before the medics arrived. Frank found the arm on the other side of the field and loaded it onto Stuff’s stretcher when the medics carried him away.
For a long time after these deaths, Frank found it hard to believe that the boys who knew him best could be gone. Sometimes he forgot that they were not there. More than once he embarrassed himself by turning to the empty air to repeat a joke he knew one of them would like. After Frank was discharged, he occasionally thought he saw Mike or Stuff in the city.
Now, riding the train to Atlanta, Frank realizes that the deaths he witnessed in Korea no longer “crush him.” He can remember his friends, and he can remember the yum-yum girl, without falling apart. In the past, he always reached for liquor when he thought of them, but he does not need to do that anymore.
The train stops for a repair, and Frank steps off to stretch his legs. He buys a Dr. Pepper and stands outside drinking it. He hears he sound of a woman screaming and goes to see if she needs help. He finds two women, prostitutes, rolling and punching at each other. A big man, their pimp, stands leaning against a big car, watching. The pimp is rude to Frank, and they get into a fight. As Frank beats the pimp badly, the two prostitutes give up their fight and shout at him to stop.
Afterward, Frank returns to the train and cleans up. The fight has filled him with joy, and he does not know why. Violence has never made him feel this way before. He tells himself to hold onto the feeling; he may need to fight again to save his sister.
(The entire section is 421 words.)
Chapters 11-12 Summary
In Chapter 11, a first-person chapter, Frank reflects that Cee is the only family he has left. When he was a child, she was always beside him, like “a shadow” whose presence reminded him that he existed. He asks, “Who am I without her—that underfed girl with the sad, waiting eyes?”
Frank worries that he might not be able to save Cee, just as he was unable to save Mike and Stuff in the war. He did all he could for his friends, but they died anyway. He does not want any more people to die while he sits by, unable to save them.
Frank tells himself that Cee’s safety is his responsibility. Even as a child, he always took care of her. On that day in the field when they saw the horses and then the dead body, he knew that he would kill anyone who tried to hurt her.
In Chapter 12, a third-person chapter, Frank wanders through Atlanta searching for a cab driver willing to work for a black man. In spite of the difficulty of this, he likes Atlanta’s southern pace and charm. He lets down his guard, and he gets jumped by a group of men who beat him and steal the last of his money. Afterward, a stranger helps him and gives him a couple of dollars.
That evening, Frank orders some eggs at a diner and thinks about Lily. She seemed relieved when he left, and he wonders if he will ever go back. He does not really miss her, and he asks himself whether he really loved her after all. Maybe he just wanted to be with her because she made him feel sane.
Frank has arranged for a cab to take him to Cee, but it never arrives. He takes a bus instead. He notices that all of the other passengers are black maids, nannies, and laborers going to work in the white part of town.
At Dr. Beaurigard Scott’s home, Frank confronts the terrified doctor, who assumes Frank wants to hurt him. The doctor tries to shoot Frank, but his gun is unloaded. When Frank realizes this, he simply brushes past the man and finds Cee lying unconscious on an examining table. He picks her up and carries her out, grabbing her money on his way.
When the doctor sees Cee in Frank’s arms, he relaxes, realizing that the only thing the intruder wants to steal is an employee who is easy to replace. As it turns out, the doctor has been feeding Cee drugs and performing mysterious surgical research on her. Whatever he has done has caused a great deal of blood loss, not to mention a wound in the genital area that Frank...
(The entire section is 517 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
In Chapter 13, another third-person chapter, Frank is surprised by how “bright” he finds the town of Lotus, Georgia. The sky is blue, the yards are full of flowers, and the trees are a brilliant green. The people seem happy, laughing and making music. Lotus seems more like a paradise than the hell Frank remembers.
Frank knows that the “safety and goodwill” he feels in Lotus do not accurately reflect the realities of life there, which he knows to be hard and full of poverty. However, he decides that it is okay to enjoy the comfortable feeling while it lasts. Soon, he knows, it will be time for planting. He resolves that he will sign up to work, devoting himself to hard labor and to the problems of ordinary life.
As the weeks pass, Frank thinks only of Cee. However, there is little he can actually do for her. The women of Lotus insist that he stay away from the sickbed. Their medicine, which is largely based on superstition, dictates that “maleness” could harm a woman in Cee’s condition.
Left to his own devices, Frank just thinks and works. He fixes up his parents’ old shack and spends the rest of his time in the fields. As he settles into this life, he resolves that if Cee dies, he will take revenge on the “arrogant, evil doctor [who] sliced her up.” But Cee does not die, and after a couple of months, Miss Ethel tells Frank that he can see her.
Cee is no longer the girl Frank remembers. She has spent her convalescence thinking about her choices and her life. When the women who were helping her heard that she willingly let a white man drug her, they rolled their eyes and told her she was stupid. They said she should never trust a man that way, and that she should never again allow herself to be treated like “trash.”
Lately, Cee has been watching the women around her. They are not like her grandmother. They do not think of themselves and their money all the time. Rather, they spend their time taking care of their homes, their families, each other, and anyone else who needs them.
At the end of Cee’s treatment, Miss Ethel lectures her not to allow herself to be treated badly anymore:
You free…You young and you a woman and there’s serious limitation in both, but you a person too. Don’t let Lenore or some trifling boyfriend and certainly no devil doctor decide who you are. That’s slavery.
(The entire section is 601 words.)
Chapters 14-15 Summary
In Chapter 14, a first-person chapter, Frank admits that he has lied to himself and to everyone else. He has been hiding from the truth because he is ashamed of it. "I shot the Korean girl in her face,” he says. Retelling the story he first told in Chapter 9, he explains that there was no other guard by the garbage pit that day. There was only Frank. The little girl approached Frank and touched his crotch, and he was horrified to find himself aroused. He did not think; he just shot her. In hindsight, he thinks he killed the girl because he feared he would act on his desire.
In Chapter 15, a third-person chapter, Frank and Cee continue their life in Lotus. Cee is adjusting fine, but Frank, having faced up to what he really did in Korea, is wracked with guilt. Over breakfast one day, he asks her what ever happened to that place they sneaked into as children, the fields where they saw the horses and the dead body. Cee says she is not sure, but she thinks people used to hold dogfights there. She tells Frank to ask their grandfather, Salem. He has been around a long time, so he knows about that kind of thing.
Salem spends most evenings on a friend’s porch, playing games, so that night Frank makes his way there. When there is a pause in the game of chess, he asks about the place where he saw the horses, where he has heard there used to be dogfights. Salem laughs at this and says the fights there were not real dogfights. Rather, there were “men-treated-like-dog fights.”
Frank listens, feeling sick, as the old men explain that black men used to be forced to fight each other to the death for the entertainment of whites. They tell a story about a boy, Jerome, from Alabama, who was forced to kill his own father. The father, unable to face the idea of killing his son, demanded that Jerome kill him instead. Jerome did so but, as one of the old men says, “All he won was his life, which I doubt was worth much to him after that.”
Frank asks when this happened, and the old men tell him it was ten or fifteen years ago—just the time when Frank and Cee saw that body in the field. As for the beautiful horses, they were slaughtered for meat during the war.
(The entire section is 408 words.)
Chapters 16-17 Summary
In Chapter 16, a third-person chapter, Cee and Frank argue. She learned how to make quilts while she was healing, and now, for some reason, Frank wants her to give up the first quilt she ever made. She refuses for a while, but he is so fixated on the idea that she gives in. As she does so, she tells herself that she will not make a habit of giving away the things she wants. “I don’t want Frank making decisions for me,” she thinks.
Carrying the quilt over his shoulder and a shovel in his hand, Frank leads the way out of Lotus. At first, Cee does not know where they are going, but eventually she recognizes the fields they visited as children. Most of the fences have fallen down, and the buildings have burned.
As Cee watches, Frank stomps on the ground, looking for a particular spot. When he finds it, he begins to dig. It does not take him long to unearth the skeleton of the man they saw buried that day when they were children. The sight upsets Cee, but she refuses to hide her face. She does not want to be weak the way she was as a little girl.
Frank and Cee lay the quilt on the ground, and then Frank arranges the bones on top. He ties up the quilt and carries it gingerly to the stream. There they find an old tree that is badly damaged, its trunk split apart, but still alive. Beneath this tree, Frank digs a proper grave for the man who was forced to die like a dog.
While Frank works, Cee glimpses a stranger in a zoot suit across the stream. He looks like the man Frank saw in his hallucinations during his journey toward Lotus, but she does not know this. She asks who is watching them, but the stranger disappears before Frank spots him.
When the hole is ready, Frank and Cee lay the dead man’s bones, wrapped in the quilt, inside. As the sun sets, they fill in the grave, and Frank nails a marker on the tree. “Here Stands a Man,” it says. He reflects that this is probably “wishful thinking” but feels the words are right anyway.
In Chapter 17, a brief first-person chapter written with broken lines like a free verse poem, Frank stands staring at the tree. He thinks:
It looked so strong
Hurt right down the middle
But alive and well.
It seems clear that Frank, too, is hurt to his core but still alive. As Home ends, Cee taps him on the...
(The entire section is 445 words.)